Jazmin Ruiz, KarryAnne Belanger and Dr. Bill Ameredes attend the GSBS poster presentation.On Friday afternoon, KarryAnne Belanger stood by her poster explaining the results of her asthma research work in a special summer program presented through the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UTMB.

“Our Summer Undergraduate Research Program is run by the GSBS and is a program in which undergraduate students who are in college can come to UTMB to work on a summer research project under the guidance of a selected faculty member and mentor,” said Dr. Bill Ameredes, associate professor of medicine. “Typically, we enlist some of the GSBS graduate students to assist with the mentoring.”

Ameredes called the program a “win-win,” giving talented undergraduate students the opportunity to do sophisticated research with top-notch mentors while generating solid scientific research that benefits the school.

Dr. Cary Cooper, dean of the GSBS, supports the SURP and its role in the recruitment of students who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. and a career in biomedical research. The program is administered by Laura Teed and two faculty co-directors, Dr. Stacy Sell and Giulio Taglialatela.

Students are given the opportunity to learn the basic skills required to contribute to research efforts in a multitude of disciplines. UTMB has 21 departments offering research opportunities for students interested in almost any area of biomedical research, including molecular biology, toxicology, biochemistry, immunology, physiology, virology, genetics, microbiology and pharmacology.

A sample of the techniques a student might learn includes maintaining cell cultures, electrophoresis, chromatography, immunoassays, animal surgery, electrophysiology and neurochemical assays and protein and nucleic acid molecular biology.

The students attend various scientific seminars and journal clubs during the summer. Finally, all participants will display the results of their research efforts at a poster session at the end of the program.

KarryAnne describes her research during the GSBS poster event.“When I first came here, I was really intimidated,” said Belanger, 20, a student at Wheaton College. “I didn’t have any experience.”

Now, she is confident in her abilities and credits the program for giving her new insights into her chosen profession.

Jazmin Ruiz, a pre-doctoral student in the graduate school’s Preventive Medicine and Community Health graduate program, served as Belanger’s mentor for her asthma research in the internal medicine department.

“It was a pleasure to pass on my knowledge to someone who is genuinely enthusiastic and inquisitive about science,” Ruiz said.

SURP students submit an abstract and create a poster of their work and submit them for recognition at the end of the summer.  Ballinger was among the awardees and received recognition for her asthma research in the Immunity category. Awards are made possible by faculty donors.

Other award winners were:

Award Amount Donor Winner
Dean's Award 250 Cary Cooper Claire Hatkevich
Sigma Xi - includes membership in Sigma Xi Research Society 200 Ulli Budelmann Danielle Weech
Institute for Human Infection and Immunity (Immunology) 250 Scott Weaver KarryAnne Belanger
Institute for Human Infection and Immunity (Infectious Diseases) 250 Scott Weaver Tim Gaw
Human Pathophysiology & Translational Medicine 250 Gustavo Valbuena Trevor Silva
NIEHS Sealy Center for  Enviromental Health 250 Cornelis Elferink Rudolfo Flores
Cell Biology  Graduate Program Award (Cell Biology) 200 Darren Boehning Belal Alammar
Cell Biology  Graduate Program Award (Neurosciences) 200 Darren Boehning Karin Nilsson
Population Health Sciences 200 Laura Rudkin Linda Nguyen
MBET  Structural Biology and Biophysics 150 Tracy Toliver Jake Goldman
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 150 Tracy Toliver Jisoo Kim
Center for Addiction Research 100 Kathryn Cunningham Siddharth Iyengar
Dept of Pathology 100 Jere McBride Andrew Abrahim
Dept of Pathology 100 Jere McBride Nancy Shenoi

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Reynolds, Galveston Daily News.